A house extension is one of the biggest and most complex projects that you will ever do as a homeowner. It incorporates a vast array of small details that need to be considered – mostly during the stage of planning.

Covering everything that you need to know will take much more than a 1000-word post like this. However, we can still provide you with some general tips on the most important things to pay attention to before starting your house extension project in Ireland.

House extension

1. Make Sure To Adhere To Building Regulations

You may need approval from your local Building Control before commencing your extension project. Depending on the physical size, location, and some other characteristics of your extension, you may or may not need a permit.

Not only that, but you need to ensure that your extension project adheres to the regulations of the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government. Depending on what you are intending to do, some of your ideas may be impossible to realize due to existing restrictions.

2. Know About Conservation Areas

You should also contact your local conservation officer to determine if you are living in a conservation area. In such areas, altering elements of the natural landscape is a criminal offence.

If you do live in a conservation area, you may need approval for some of the elements of your extension project. You won’t necessarily receive permission for all your ideas, but you’ll at least know what’s allowed and won’t have issues with the law.

3. Check If There Is A Sewer Nearby

If there are sewers near your property, you may need construction approval as well. If you aren’t sure, contact your local water authority. Building near or over water line access points may not be allowed in your area or require permits.

Keep in mind that you may need to move the nearby water utility hole or build a new one to carry out your plans. If this is indeed what your water authorities require, then consider altering your building project to avoid the costs associated with sewer accommodation.

4. Building Plans Should Be Submitted To Building Control

Whether or not your extension project requires permits, you may need to submit a building notice to your local Building Control. Check building regulations in your area – you may be required to submit a building notice well before the building commences.

In Ireland, commencement notices can be of two types – with documentation (called “Long Form”) or without documentation (called “Short Form”). With extensions, you will most likely have to submit not just a notice but also the full documentation of your project.

Even if your project is small enough not to require a Long Form, you should still submit documentation – the Building Control will thus be able to confirm that your project meets building regulations. Once you receive approval this way, you will not be liable for corrections even if something turns out not to comply with regulations.

5. Determine Whether Access To The Building Site Is Limited

Invite the designer and contractor to the building site during the initial stages of planning – this will allow them to determine whether there is enough access to the site for unrestricted use of the necessary building methods.

If access to the building site is limited, you may not be able to realize some of your ideas. On the other hand, with fewer things to do, you also may not need to receive approval from your local Building Control for elements that can’t be implemented but would have required approval.

6. You Need Site Insurance To Protect Yourself From Property Damage

You should acquire site insurance to protect yourself from property damage that can possibly occur during the construction works. 

Even if your contractor has insurance, you may need to get site insurance of your own. This is because most contractors have liability insurance. With this insurance, you will have to prove fault, and natural event damage may not be covered as well.

7. Rebuilding Your Entire Home May Be A Better Thing To Do

A big perk of home extensions is that they add value. However, although extensions will add value, it may be lower than the cost of the project. Aside from that, know that even extensive projects will not increase the value of your home beyond the ceiling price for that kind of property in your area.

If this is the case for your property, then rebuilding the entire house may make more financial sense. Likewise, it may be a better idea to sell your home and move elsewhere.

8. Be Careful With Extensions Over An Existing Structure

If you are intending to build an extension over an existing structure, then think twice. If the existing structure is single-storey, then it may not be strong enough to support the load of an extension above.

With structures that have multiple storeys, you shouldn’t have issues, but you may want to check anyway.

If the single-storey structure is indeed too weak, you may reinforce it or simply rebuild it. Depending on the extent of the necessary upgrades, rebuilding may be a more cost-effective option.

9. House Extensions Require Meticulous Planning

Your extension project has to be meticulously planned, including not only size, design, or location but also such small things as electrical fixtures, outlets, or plumbing lines. 

This applies especially if you want to extend an existing room or structure, e.g. a kitchen. A common planning tip with kitchens is that you should plan any changes to the layout to the kitchen beforehand to determine how costly the project will turn out and whether you can do anything to reduce changes and reduce costs.

Also, consider whether your existing water, electrical, or heating systems will require an upgrade as well to support the extension.

10. Know That Living On-Site May Slow Down The Project

Finally, consider living off-site while the extension is being built – e.g. at a hotel or with a friend or relative of yours. If you live on-site, builders may have to adapt to your lifestyle, which might limit their construction abilities. By living off-site, you will give them freedom of action and thus will be done with the extension project faster.